30 January 2007

Another first...

I am so exhausted, drained and worn out – from the busyness, from the constant noise and people everywhere in this building, from the constant getting up early and going to sleep late. I just want to write something, something very important, but I’m not even sure I have the energy,
You probably heard about what happened in Eilat yesterday. There was, what we call in Israel, a pigua, an attack, more specifically, a suicide bombing. A young man from Gaza City crossed the border into Egypt, crossed back over into Israel near Eilat, where the border is not so heavily guarded, and blew himself up in a bakery around 10 in the morning. Three people were murdered, may their memories be a blessing, including a young immigrant named Yisrael Samoliya, 26, from Peru.
There are a few things noteworthy about this specific pigua. First of all, Eilat has never been hit by a suicide bomber before. This was the first such attack in a city known for its tourism, both Israeli and foreign, which was probably intended to send the message that not even the most comfortable, nicest vacation spot in Israel is safe. Second of all, it was the first pigua in almost a year, if I am not mistaken. This is not for lack of trying on the part of those who would try to perpetrate such attacks, but rather for increasingly effective security steps taken by the military and the police. Thank God that this is the first attack in such a long time, but it is really horrible. According to the Jerusalem Post, there were only three people in the bakery at the time – the bakery’s two young owners and an employee, mentioned above. Investigators think that the terrorist heard police sirens (the police had been given a tip about someone suspicious matching his description), became nervous and walked into the nearest place, where he detonated his bomb. Savage. Really barbaric.
The last thing about this pigua is that it is the first one since I have lived here, as an Israeli. I know I have been saying lots of things (and blogging them, when I have time) about my first this and my first that in Israel, and I will continue to do this as new things arise. Here’s another one, I guess – my first pigua as an Israeli. I just feel sick.
Another thing that hit me when I was reading the article in the J Post was the young man who was killed. He was an oleh, a new immigrant, just like me, just like the hundred plus other people with whom I am living, eating and studying at the moment. His parents live in Miami. He left his family, his home country – everything behind to start a new life here. He had hopes, dreams and passions that he wanted to fulfill here. He was living out his dream, and he was viciously murdered. What a horrible tragedy! I can hardly believe it. And it hits close to home.
I will say one thing last of all. This is a part of living in this country. I’m not fatalistic; I don’t believe that it has to be this way. But this is the reality; this is what we live with. It sucks, it hurts, and I hope and pray with all of my might that things will change and that I can be a part of that change for the better. Maybe I am crazy. Okay, I am crazy. What kind of sane person would do what I’ve done – leave everything behind and come live in this crazy country where nothing is easy and not much works? We’ll leave this for another time….
The Torah describes the land of Canaan as “a land that devours its inhabitants”. In the next paragraph, it calls this land “a land flowing with milk and honey”. (Numbers 13:32; 14:8) So which is it?
Judaism also teaches that the middle path is the best, that extremes are dangerous. That’s my answer.

Site Meter

27 January 2007

What, am I in college again or something?

Here are some pics of my new living quarters - my room, my bed/space on the right, the hallway, which isn't actually so scary-looking during the day when more sunlight gets in. If my roommate wasn't so great, I think I'd be going crazy.

Oh, and here's a great picture of my lovely South African roommate, Jacqui, and me, with the city of Jerusalem in the background.

Site Meter

18 January 2007

Safe and Sound at the New Ulpan

I know I haven't blogged recently. You don't have to tell me. This weekend, I plan on taking a quiet afternoon and letting you know, in detail, what's been going on in my CRAZY life since I last posted.
I just moved into Ulpan Etzion (the first ulpan established in the state of Israel). I live in a dorm-type setting, have two roommates (one from South Africa whom I absolutely love and another from Kazakhstan or Russia - I've not yet been able to get a clear answer on this - whom I have seen once since she moved in two days ago).
Ulpan classes began on Wednesday. I was put into Bet-Shalosh, for those of you who know. For the rest of you - it's like I'm starting in the third term of Sophomore year, second level, third tier. Four words: I need a break. My brain hurts. It's all in Hebrew, and, although I understand 95% of what she says, after an hour or two, I NEED a brain-break. Today (Thursday) was easier than the first day, but I have SOOO much homework!
But.....the social life calls. Thursday night here, being the night before the day the Sabbath starts, is the party night. Actually, Israelis will party just as hard any night of the week, but Thursday night even more so.
A few of my new friends and I are going out for a drink in a few minutes. Fun!
Just to give you an idea of the truly international-meeting place this ulpan is: my roommates - South Africa, Kazakhstan/Russia; my friend in class - Australia; the girls next door - Miami, originally from Brasil and France; the girls across the hall - Las Vegas and Uruguay, and I am sitting in a room with three notoriously loud Brasilians and an American. Phew!

Site Meter